Proposed Council plans to save Wexford’s rural villages

Disadvantaged rural villages and the lack of services and isolation across Co. Wexford was debated at last Monday’s meeting of Wexford County Council with Cllr Ger Carthy advocating support for a 10-year strategic plan for Wexford.
He suggested a motion for cross-party support on the matter.
There was wide ranging views from the members, however, there was real message of concern for the future of rural areas and what can be done to prevent further escalation of the situation.
Cllr Pip Breen indicated that rural villages can’t expand because of restrictions caused by Irish Water and lack of capacity in sewerage systems.
Cllr Barbara-Anne Murphy said; “We want to live in rural towns but they are closing Garda Stations and Post Offices. Children can’t go to school on the bus. Broadband is almost non-existant. You have to hang out and window and don’t move to use a mobile phone! It’s a ridiculous situation. The county needs decent roads – you can’t travel without hitting a pothole every ten seconds – and more investment is needed to market the county.”
Cllr Michael Sheehan agreed with Cllr Murphy, but added that education was falling further behind, and concluded, “We do not have the services in Ireland.”
Cllr Tony Dempsey regretted the Garda presence and the poor WIFI, but claimed there is a plan “to double the population of Waterford?”
Cllr Paddy Kavanagh was angry. “We are being swallowed up as a county by Dublin. We are in two different provinces (Leinster and Munster). The notion that we are a great land county is a fallacy. 10% of our food is grown in this county. Producers once got 45%, now they get 15%. The retail supermarkets are thriving while the local businesses are closing down. We are not getting our fair share for what we produce in this county.”
Cllr Lisa McDonald was critical of Irish Water services and claimed it takes six monthsto get a water connection. “The world is changing and that includes working from home.”
Cllr Davy Hynes was critical of centralisation and regionalisation. “Ring for a fire brigade or an ambulance, or even an application for a medical card, things that could be done at local level and should be done at local level.”
Cllr Hynes was critical of the HSE and referred to Irish Water as “a monster.”
Cllr John Hegarty agreed that the rural population is under pressure. “Irish Water is a problem,” he stated. Cllr Robbie Ireton expressed a similar view to the many contributors.
Cllr Willie Kavanagh expressed reservations about online shopping. “The post office vans are overloaded with items bought online,” he stated, but also was critical of ‘below cost selling’ and suggested that support for the local shop would help keep villages and towns alive.
Cllr Malcolm Byrne replied; “We have got to be realistic, but online shopping is here to stay,” and he also made references to climate change and an ageing population as influences.
It was suggested setting up a sub-committee of Wexford County Council to report and publish recommendations on rural policy within a maximum time period of two or three months.

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